An eight-year-old boy told his mum he “wanted to die” after becoming isolated from his friends during lockdown.
Matthew Sprake has become extremely withdrawn since the pandemic closed schools across the UK in March.
His heartbreaking sadness deteriorated so much that he even told mum Stephanie Sprake that he “just wanted to die”.
Mrs Sprake now believes the dangers the lockdown poses to children’s mental health and wellbeing outweighs the risks of Covid-19. She told North Wales Live the country’s government shouldn’t be so cautious.
The mother, who works for an accounting body, said: “I really think I am going to have to get him mental health help.
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“No one is downplaying the risks of Covid but it’s gone on for so long and there’s clear evidence the risks to children and teachers are low, because children don’t get very ill and don’t pass on the virus easily.
“My eight-year-old has been really lonely and just wants to go back to school.
“He said to me he wants to die ‘mummy I just want to die’. He’s so sad.
“If he thought he could go back to school in September there’d be some hope.”
The mum’s 11-year-old daughter Charlotte will start at Wirral Grammar School in England in September, where classes will start relatively normally in full year groups.
However, Matthew attends Ysgol Wepre, a school in Connah’s Quay, north Wales where the family lives.
“In September it looks like I’m going to be waving my daughter off and keeping my son at home,” Mrs Sprake added.
“In the Netherlands they said they’re not going to socially distance the children but teachers will stay two metres apart from everyone else.
“These are things Welsh Government should be getting in place now ready for September.”
In France, Denmark and other European countries, children have been deemed low risk of being ill and passing the virus on.
But in the latest survey conducted by Public Health Wales, almost half (46 per cent) of people were very or extremely concerned about children catching Covid-19 in schools and spreading it within their families and communities.
It also revealed the proportion of people worrying about their mental health and wellbeing reduced from 22 per cent last week to just 12 per cent this – but children were not included in the survey.
Other parents in north Wales support Mrs Sprake’s view.
Louis Jenkins said teenage daughter Emilie, a pupil at St David’s High School in Saltney, is also suffering because of isolation from her friends.
Mrs Jenkins said: “She came back from school this week with a smile on her face and I see how important it is for her.
“I emailed education minister Kirsty Williams and said we have to coexist because it’s just not fair.
“English schools go back in September, Scottish schools will and in Northern Ireland with social distancing.
“In five years Welsh children will be competing with those from the other three nations for university places.”
Mrs Jenkins said academically bright Emilie, 13, misses her passion of dancing which she did five nights a week, so reopening school fully in September could be a lifeline.
She added: “She’s been stuck in with adults for the last 12 weeks and is a lot more sedentary than she ever was.
“She’s got a good social circle but not having any contact since March has had an effect on her.
“I can see it’s getting harder and harder to get her up in the morning and I know she’s up all hours.
“The people making these decisions have the luxury of a full education.
“Why don’t they just say schools will be open and those who are frightened can do a blended education (part online, part within school).
“Those like me can send their children to school.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Wales is the only UK nation where all pupils have been given the opportunity to attend school before summer holidays, to see teachers and classmates and to ‘check in, catch up and prepare’ for summer and September.
“As we have seen this week, thousands of children across Wales have already returned to school.
“As the Education Minister made clear, she will announce how schools will operate in September once a decision has been made based on the latest health and scientific advice to help keep Wales safe.”